Barbara VanDenburgh

Barbara VanDenburgh
Tomatometer-approved critic
Publications: Arizona Republic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3.5/5 100% The Proposal (2019) "The Proposal" makes for a fascinating and not-a-little-morbid piece of artistic trolling. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
3.5/5 93% The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) "Last Black Man" is two hours of a feeling, one that it can't sustain through beauty alone... Still, "Last Black Man" pulses with undeniable energy and the promise of other, even better films to come. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 11, 2019
3/5 79% Late Night (2019) Beyond the confines of Thompson's performance, though, "Late Night" is rote. It's ironic that a film about bucking formula is itself so formulaic. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 10, 2019
2/5 57% Aladdin (2019) It all has the air of a community theater troupe performing in a Disney parade, overeager in the exaggerated artifice. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 23, 2019
2.5/5 71% All Is True (2019) How do you make a legend as imposing as Shakespeare flesh? "All Is True" suggests you can't, if not even Branagh, Dench, McKellen, et al. can bring him down to earth. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2019
4.5/5 90% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) "The Matrix" is in its DNA, and like "The Matrix," "John Wick" elevates action not by apologizing for it but embodying it, and embedding in its thrills meditations on the nature of existence. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2019
3.5/5 97% Hail Satan? (2019) As a study in the art of media manipulation and civic trolling, "Hail Satan?" is informative and entertaining. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2019
76% Hotel Mumbai (2019) There were innumerable ways to tell the story of the Mumbai attacks responsibly, and with greater emotional punch... Instead, the filmmakers leaned into the body count. It's technically competent filmmaking - just not ethically. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 27, 2019
4/5 94% The Mustang (2019) That sophistication in filmmaking and storytelling wins out in the end. The answers don't come easy, and when they do they're more than a little heartbreaking. "The Mustang" is all the better for it. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2019
3/5 78% Captain Marvel (2019) Its mid-'90s setting gives the film retro flair, and its girl-power soundtrack, blasting Garbage and Hole, will win over any '90s girl's heart. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2019
2/5 68% Isn't It Romantic (2019) The problem isn't that it pokes fun at romantic comedies, it's that it itself isn't a terribly good one. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2019
2.5/5 60% Alita: Battle Angel (2019) It's a whole lot of silly, which is why it's even more disappointing that the plot is so rote, a hodgepodge of overfamiliar subplots that culminates in a purposefully unsatisfying ending that's optimistically angling for a sequel. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2019
3.5/5 89% Arctic (2019) Though the journey is well executed and the tension sustained, the obstacles are so familiar to the genre - inclement weather, tricky rock formations, grumpy bears - they can feel ordinary. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3.5/5 85% The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Speaking of songs, steel yourself for another insidious earworm. Like the movie, it's obvious and overeager, a piece of commercial pop art manufactured within an inch of its life. But it's also not wrong, and will very much get stuck inside your head. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 6, 2019
2.5/5 74% Destroyer (2018) If there's a powerful performance here, it's obscured by the ludicrous Kabuki mask of pain in which Kidman is outfitted. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2019
4/5 92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) "Cold War" devastates all the same, and its meditations on what might have been and what could never be haunt long after the gutting final frame. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 15, 2019
1.5/5 20% The Aspern Papers (2019) Landais certainly brought little cinematic verve to "The Aspern Papers," telling the story largely in turgid literary voiceover lifted directly from the original source material. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/5 93% Bumblebee (2018) Maybe the key to getting a good Transformers movie this whole time was simply hiring a woman to write the screenplay. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2018
2/5 65% Aquaman (2018) There is the occasional cool visual and clever world-building detail, like jellyfish couture and eye-popping underwater physics, but "Aquaman" never fully commits to its lunacy. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2018
4/5 58% The House That Jack Built (2018) To dismiss "Jack" out of hand in offense is not just to miss von Trier's point, but to prove it. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 16, 2018
4.5/5 97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) It breathes youthful life into a tired franchise and makes the smartest transition yet of characters from the comics to the big screen with clever animation and thoughtful storytelling. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
3.5/5 96% Becoming Astrid (Unga Astrid) (2018) Though "Becoming Astrid" is unflinching in its depictions of Astrid's pain, it does not wallow. A shallower story would be rife with villains, but there are none here. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 29, 2018
3.5/5 80% At Eternity's Gate (2018) Dafoe might not make logical sense in the role, but he commands it, his demon-haunted eyes communicating the artist's inner turmoil during the fertile creative period in the south of France that presaged his final unraveling. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2018
4/5 91% Widows (2018) This is the most fun McQueen has ever been - not a high bar to clear, given his particular brand of misery porn - but that fun still comes with a bullet. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
2.5/5 81% Instant Family (2018) Too well-meaning and sincere to truly dislike, but too frictionless and manufactured to do right by the complicated scenario. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
3/5 78% Green Book (2018) It would be more insulting if Ali and Mortensen weren't milking the formula for all it's worth, gifting the film unearned grace with their magnetism. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
4/5 88% What They Had (2018) "What They Had"... achieves a delicate balance of tone, finding the humor in the irrepressibly sad, the love in daily toil, the soul in a disease that seeks to obliterate it. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 23, 2018
2.5/5 73% Galveston (2018) Despite its ostensive seriousness, "Galveston" is a tepid crime drama without talons sharp enough to sink into the audience. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 15, 2018
4.5/5 87% First Man (2018) A sweeping biographical drama of Armstrong's decade-long march to the moon, test by grueling test, told without romance from the pilot's-eye view. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2018
3/5 52% Papillon (2018) Hunnam and Malek acquit themselves finely, neither trying to imitate his predecessor. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 21, 2018
2/5 49% The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) It's criminal to cast this many talented people - Gillian Anderson! Fred Melamed! Jane Curtin! Paul Reiser! - and not write them any jokes that don't rely on shock gags, toilet humor and cliché social observations. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 27, 2018
4/5 50% Equalizer 2 (2018) Betrayal, loss, grief, redemption - it's the stuff great characters are built on. And it makes all those thrilling knife fights and broken bones actually mean something. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 19, 2018
2.5/5 61% Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018) Perhaps a vacation would serve this tired franchise well. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 13, 2018
2/5 32% The Catcher Was A Spy (2018) "The Catcher Was a Spy" only ever penetrates the surface - of Berg's psyche, of heroism in the face of evil, of America's pastime - so that historical events ostensibly thrilling are rendered rote. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 21, 2018
4/5 100% Summer 1993 (Estiu 1993) (2018) It's a film entirely lacking in pomp, but there's a certain bravado in its delicate reservation. A tender and spare meditation on family unfurls in the stillness of a sleepy, sun-soaked Spanish summer. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2018
3.5/5 91% Hearts Beat Loud (2018) You've heard this song before and can predict all the emotional high notes before they hit, but sometimes that's all you need from a summer bop. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2018
2/5 39% Mary Shelley (2018) To make boring the revelries of 19th century literati is no mean feat, but it is "Mary Shelley's" chief accomplishment. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 7, 2018
4/5 91% Beast (2018) The dark nail-biter eschews the obvious at every turn and is less a whodunit than a twisted moral meditation grounded by its mesmerizing leading lady. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2018
1/5 16% Show Dogs (2018) When you find yourself longing for "Turner and Hooch," things are very bleak indeed. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2018
2.5/5 75% Little Pink House (2018) A workmanlike dramatization of a controversial Supreme Court decision that never quite makes a case for itself. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2018
3/5 74% The House of Tomorrow (2018) The pedestrian narrative still makes for a winsome coming-of-age tale, buoyed as it is by a talented cast and visually striking setting. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 26, 2018
3/5 85% Love After Love (2018) It's a film intentionally adrift, rambling between a loose succession of family gatherings and dinner parties with subdued style, the camera feeling like just another person at the edge of the room. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2018
3.5/5 81% Where Is Kyra? (2018) Gosh, but it's good to have Michelle Pfeiffer back. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2018
2.5/5 82% Beirut (2018) 'Beirut' should have the grace to tell a story at least as good as the native one it eschewed, but instead we're plunged into a murky geopolitical morass peopled with paper-thin characters with little emotional resonance. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2018
3.5/5 94% Foxtrot (2018) "Foxtrot" is far too interior to be called flashy, but there's something striking in director Samuel Maoz's visual confidence, the way he translates his characters' states of mind into images. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2018
1.5/5 22% Midnight Sun (2018) Schwarzenegger's chief skills are leaning against things, looking confused and having good hair, while Thorne struggles to convincingly lip sync. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 23, 2018
2/5 49% Flower (2018) It feels like the work of indie filmmakers weaned on Todd Solondz movies, adopting all of the ugliness but none of the insight, without even shock value to show for it. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2018
4/5 93% A Fantastic Woman (Una mujer fantástica) (2018) "A Fantastic Woman" is a superb Chilean drama, at times infuriating but never despairing. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 22, 2018
2/5 63% Peter Rabbit (2018) For anyone familiar with the original "Peter Rabbit," it's a little depressing to see its storybook charm reduced to slapstick. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2018
2.5/5 50% Freak Show (2018) It's a Frankenstein's monster of teen comedies, lumbering from one cliché to the next on its way to an inevitable conclusion. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2018